The National Apple Harvest Festival was started more than 49 years ago by the Adams County Fruitgrowers Association after having successfully run “Apple Blossom Sunday” since the early 1950’s. In 1961, the first “Apple Harvest Holiday” was held.
The Upper Adams Jaycees, chartered in 1962, and eager for a fundraiser, contacted the Fruitgrowers and after negotiations, attempted to organize the event themselves in 1965. The Apple Harvest Festival got its official debut on Sunday, October 10, 1965.
Featured attractions, many of which are still present at the festival today, included an antique car display, apple cider press, apple butter boil, pony rides, orchard bus tours, apple desserts, apple product sales, candy apples, souvenir booth, and the Apple Blossom Queen. Entertainment has grown to include bands playing live music on several stages throughout the fairgrounds, Native American dancers, tractor square dancing, a petting zoo, steam engine with working shingle mill, apple pie auction, whose proceeds are donated to charity, and much, much more.
The festival continued to grow each year and profits were used by the Upper Adams Jaycees to build a recreational facility, which is open to the public, in Biglerville known to all as Oakside Community Park.
In 1975, the festival expanded to 2 weekends and continues to be held on the first 2 full weekends of October each year. The festival has only closed two times due to bad weather, and for only one day of the festival. We have had several years with one or more days of rainy weather, but try to persevere through the weather so that we can continue with our mission to improve the community in which we live.
In 1994, our 30th Anniversary, the festival was visited by Good Morning America. Their staff filmed the festival and featured it on national television. In 2012, we were recognized by National Geographic Traveler as one of their “Best Fall Trips 2012”, as well as SmarterTravel.com’s list of “10 Great Fall Festivals”.
Today the festival features over 300 Arts & Crafts vendors, an artisan demonstration area, strolling characters, antique farm equipment displays and of course food! Apples of all shapes, sizes, and forms, baked into just about anything you can imagine from homemade applesauce made fresh during the festival to pancakes, syrup, cider, slushies, candy & caramel apples, pizza, & much more. Plus, our famous pit beef sandwiches, chicken barbecue, sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, sweet potato fries and so on. There is no need to leave hungry!
2014 will feature the 50th Anniversary of our festival & we are already planning many special activities and events for everyone to enjoy!
The festival is run by an army of volunteers from all over our community. All proceeds go back into the Upper Adams Community in the form of projects offered by the Upper Adams Jaycees, including Oakside Community Park, donations to other organizations, as well as to support charitable activities throughout Pennsylvania & the nation.